[OPE-L:5268] Re: Re: Re: Re: 's' is for surplus value (not surplus product)

From: Rakesh Narpat Bhandari (rakeshb@Stanford.EDU)
Date: Mon Mar 26 2001 - 02:50:32 EST

Dear Gil,
do you agree that

(1) the generalization of commodity production depends on the general 
(though not universal) commodification of labor power as alienated by 
doubly free proletarians in the role of juridical subjects?

(2) that interest bearing capital and merchants capital (considered 
only its role of circulating commodities) cannot systematically 
increase the *value in circulation* (given how Marx defines value), 
though both interest bearing and merchants capital can indeed result 
in surplus value  and merchants capital (as narrowly considered) can 
increase the use value (again as defined by Marx) of commodities to 
their owners?

(3) do you agree that it is reasonable to understand Marx as 
suggesting this kind of historical dialectic: only through the new 
circuit of industrial capital do we have not only the result of 
surplus value but also the systematic increase of the the value in 
circulation; and  merchants and interest bearing capital, though 
older forms of capital,  now usually (but not always) derive from the 
value newly added in and through the newer circuit of industrial 
capital and are themselves thereby changed in character?

"Industrial capital gives to production its capitalist character. Its 
existence includes that of class antagonism between capitalists and 
labourers. To the extent it assumes control over social production, 
the technique and social organization of the labor process are 
revolutionized and with the economic and historical type of society. 
The other kinds of capital, which appear before the industrial 
capital amid past or declining conditions of social production, are 
not only subordinated to it and suffer changes in mechanism of their 
functions corresponding with it, but move on it as a basis; they live 
and die, stand and fall, as this, their basis, lives and dies, stands 
and falls. Money capital and commodity capital, in so far as they 
appear and function as bearers of their own peculiar branches of 
business alongside industrial capital, are now only modes of 
existence of the various functional forms that industrial capital 
constantly assumes and discards within the circulation sphere"
Marx, Capital, vol II, p. 136 (penguin, though I mixed in Korsch's 

I understand Marx here to be arguing that merchants capital or 
interest bearing capital (or rent) cannot simply be isolated and 
compared across social systems; rather while these elements share 
formal resemblances across social systems,  they have radically 
different implications when parts of different 'totalities'. So here 
Marx would be more like Radcliffe Brown than Frazer in social 
anthropology (given Edmund Leach's summary). Again, this kind of 
theorizing has to be part of an inductive-historical approach of the 
sort Marx commended in Richard Jones whose contribution to Marx's 
method has simply been expunged in contemporary scholarship.

I should also add this unrelated point: note how Marx emphasizes the 
importance of industrialization of production and the continuous 
revolution in productive technique to the character of bourgeois 
society; how can this aspect receive the attention it deserves if one 
is focused on the simple ownership of assets and the possibility of 
exploitation in and through exchange (or even the exogeneity of the 
distributional struggle to price and profit determination)? Wouldn't 
Marxists be better off thinking through Veblen on the character of 
industrial society?

Yours, Rakesh

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